Wilderness Society plans legal fight over fossil fuels in shift to tackling global warming

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Australia’s biggest environmental group will launch a major legal fight against the fossil fuel industry as it shifts its focus to climate change for the first time in its 37-year history.

And its anger will be aimed at damage caused to Australian environments including WA’s Kimberley and the Canning Basin.

The Wilderness Society – which has traditionally campaigned to protect native forests, bush and coastlines – says it can no longer ignore the impact of carbon emissions on the natural landscape. In a controversial move, the group will aggressively target Australia’s multibillion-dollar oil, gas and coal exports.

“Australia is now an emerging energy superpower and our argument is if you’re serious about nature conservation, and if you’re serious about climate change you can’t just keep messing around with domestic issues; you’ve got to look at the export industry. We’ve got to make a decision as a country to keep large coal, oil and gas reserves actually in the ground,” Wilderness Society national campaign director Lyndon Schneiders said.

Just as it took on logging giants Gunns in a bid to protect native forests, the group will consider types of legal action and pressure on investors to block and undermine fossil fuel extraction that impacts on the natural environment and community health.

“As a long-time greenie, I was always more concerned with direct threats to nature – logging or land clearing or invasive species, river health – but watching the acceleration in the mining and export industry in the last four or five years, you can’t be a nature conservationist in this country any more without saying we’ve got to get rid of this fossil fuel addiction,” Mr Schneiders said

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